The Rewards of Rape: Rich Bounty for a Bush Partner in Torture

Our text for today is from the Guardian: Freed doctor describes torture ordeal inside Libyan jail.

The Palestinian doctor who was held in Libyan custody along with five Bulgarian nurses on charges they infected hundreds of children with HIV, has described in detail how they were tortured during their eight-year ordeal. Ashraf Alhajouj, 38, said he was beaten, held in cages with police dogs and given electric shocks, including to his private parts. He said that he and the nurses were sometimes put together naked in the same room and tortured.

All the world knows that one of the great fruits of the Bush Administration's compassionate interve
ntion in Iraq has been the return of long-outcast Libya to the community of nations. As we have been told by our Wise Molders of conventional wisdom, Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy was so shocked and awed by the righteous might of the Anglo-American mission of mercy in Iraq that he shed salt tears of repentance for his past waywardness and vowed to sin no more. He gave up his "arsenal of weapons of mass destruction," as the Molders put it, and has thrown open his doors to the compassionate intervention of Western business interests, particularly the benevolent lords of the oil companies, now returning to the sumptuous fields from which younger and more foolish Gadafy expelled them decades ago. In recognition of his new, more mature stance, Gadafy has been showered with accolades by Western leaders, particularly Tony Blair, who used some of his last precious days in power to visit his "trusted friend" Muammar and, just by the way, seal a $900 million oil deal for BP.

It is indeed a pretty tale that our Molders have spun -- and are still spinning. And it would be most churlish of us to mar their lovely confection with base dollops of the black and grimy truth. Such as the fact that the "arsenal of weapons of mass destruction" that Gadafy offered to "give up" in late 2003 -- supposedly in fear and trembling at the fate of Saddam Hussein -- was actually a very rudimentary stab at the beginnings of a uranium enrichment program, the components of which had already been mothballed by the Libyans themselves. As the BBC reported after the initial PR wave of Gadafy's "conversion" had passed:

Libya was not close to producing nuclear weapons, the head of the United Nations nuclear agency has confirmed...He and a team of experts from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were taken to four once secret nuclear sites. They were shown a lot of dismantled equipment stored in boxes that was relevant to a uranium enrichment programme.

"What we have seen is a programme in the very initial stages of development," Mr ElBaradei told the BBC. Libya had not actually produced any uranium and the country was still several years away from developing a nuclear weapon, he said.

It also transpired -- again, after the PR blizzard -- that Gadafy had been negotiating a deal to open up his oil fields in exchange for beaucoup bucks and bags of goodies from the West for many months before the invasion of Iraq. The bags of goodies now in the pipeline to Gadafy include advanced weapons systems and -- strangely enough -- the prospect of nuclear power technology, as the Guardian reports. That's right: the brilliant statesmen of the West are preparing to replace Libya's mothballed, moribund, boxed-up, dead-in-the-water, half-assed attempt at a nuclear program with advanced nuclear power technology, putting Gadafy far down the road toward a weapons program, if he decides to backslide into "rogue" status -- as he as often done following past rapprochements.

Of course, a cynic -- some bumpkin unable to appreciate the delicate art of the Molders -- might say that such a policy possibly indicates a lack of genuine concern about nuclear proliferation on the part of those leaders who use the threat of "mushroom clouds in our cities" as a justification for bloodshed all over the globe. That same cynical rustic -- his unschooled mind hobbled by yokelish notions about morality and reason in public policy -- might also be tempted to see a tincture of hypocrisy in the slavering willingness of self-proclaimed champions of enlightenment and civilization to peddle weapons and nukestuff to a tyrant who has spent years fomenting dirty wars among his neighbors.

But again, it would be unseemly to dwell upon such ugly matters, especially when there is so much money on the table for so many highly-placed personages. Thus the revelations of Dr. Ashraf Alhajouj of the terrible tortures he and his fellow captives suffered during eight years of false imprisonment by Gadafy will very swiftly be swept into that yawning abyss where the truths of our day are buried and sealed like so much radioactive waste. As long as crony cash is on the line, as long as Gadafy pays lip service to Bush's War on Terror trope, there will be no place in polite public discourse for this kind of thing:

In a harrowing first-person account, published in the latest edition of the German news magazine Der Spiegel following the release of the six last week, Dr Alhajouj described how following his initial arrest in January 1999, along with the nurses, he was taken to a police dog training centre outside Tripoli.

"For the first days I was locked up with three dogs who were ordered to attack me. My leg is full of scars and marks from where they bit me [and] I had a big hole in my knee," he said. Later, he said, wire cable that had been stripped of its plastic coating, was wound round his penis and he was dragged "screaming and crying" across the floor. He was also given electric shocks with a generator-style machine.

"They put the minus cable on my finger and the plus cable on my ear or my genitals. The most painful thing was their ability to increase the speed of the electricity flow. When I fell unconscious they would throw cold water over my naked body and then begin all over again," he said. The torture times were set for between 5pm and 5am and continued for 13 months. The nurses were submitted to similar treatment.

"Sometimes we were tortured in the same room. I saw them half-naked, they saw me completely naked when I was being electrocuted. We heard each others' whimpering, crying and screaming." He said he saw the women being raped and watched as one of them broke a piece of glass from the window and cut her wrists when she could not bear it any longer.

Alhajouj and the nurses were twice condemned to die on ludicrous charges that they had deliberately infected hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. The truth -- confirmed by independent investigation and in part by testimony in the Libyan kangaroo court -- was that these selfless medical workers had come to provide expertise to the crumbling, shambolic state that Gadafy had made of Libya, and found a children's hospital sunk in filth and deprivation. HIV was already rampant among the wretched children in the dilapidated hospital before the Bulgarian medical team arrived. As they began dying by the dozens, outraged parents demanded action from the government. Gadafy's response was to shift the blame from his own brutal regime to those who had come to help alleviate the suffering of his people. The Bulgarians were arrested, subjected to the tortures outlined above, and essentially held hostage for years, while Gadafy tried to squeeze the best possible deal out of Europe and the United States.

And it worked. The Bulgarians were being tortured and abused all during the celebratory hoo-rah following Gadafy's come-to-Dubya conversion. They were languishing in false imprisonment during every visit of Tony Blair to his "trusted friend." While oil deals were being signed, while the Bush Administration was preparing to open its new embassy in Tripoli, the five nurses -- all of them mothers -- were being raped and beaten and deprived of the childhoods of their own children during eight years of captivity. And now, with hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands in the extremely murky financial deals that accompanied the Bulgarians' release, the path has been cleared for a porkfest all around, as the Guardian reports:

In Brussels, the European commission announced that it would now negotiate a special agreement with Libya. Libya asked for EU help with market access for its agricultural products, technical assistance with archaeological preservation and border controls as well as more scholarships and easier visa rules. With western companies queuing up to invest in Libya's under-performing economy, especially in the strategic oil and gas sector, there could be huge financial benefits for both sides.

Indeed, France's L'il Napoleon, Nicholas Sarkozy -- the beloved new star of the American Right -- practically stampeded to Tripoli to embrace Gadafy for his great benevolence in releasing the Bulgarians after only eight years of beatings, torture and rape, as the Guardian reports:

Nicolas Sarkozy followed his wife and flew to meet Muammar Gadafy yesterday after Libya freed six Bulgarian medics accused of infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus and won the promise of a "new era" in relations with the EU. The French president was promoting commercial and political ties as US and British companies seek to penetrate the Libyan market. The oil-rich north African state is shedding its old pariah status and opening up to the world.

"What we are going to talk about is wide-ranging cooperation, in all fields," said an Elysée Palace spokesman. "We can do a lot more and a lot better with Libya, and that is why the head of state is travelling there." Arms sales, banking privatisation and civil nuclear technology are all areas of interest to Paris.

Colonel Gadafy was last night due to host a dinner for Mr Sarkozy at his Bab al-Aziziya compound, bombed by the US air force in retaliation for an alleged Libyan terrorist attack in 1986.

Ah yes, that little bombing raid by the saintly Ronnie Reagan: a little muscle-flexing by the Beltway militarists in their early days. The raid had absolutely no effect whatsoever on Libyan behavior in subsequent years, but it did manage to kill Gadafy's adopted two-year-old daughter, when American planes struck one of his houses in an attempted "decapitation raid." This dead baby was the sum total of the great triumph that Saint Ronnie and his sycophants celebrated after the raid: "America is back and standing tall!"

But that's the way of the world. The killers kill, they quarrel, they make up, they kill some more -- the game goes on, the money flows, the party never ends. What do a few dead babies and raped nurses matter when there's so much fun to be had, so much money to make?